Edmonton teacher may lose job for case against zeros


An Edmonton teacher who was suspended after giving students zeros for defiance of school policy may now lose his job.

Lynden Dorval, physics and science teacher, initially refused to abide by his school’s no-zero policy. In a letter dated June 18, the principal of Ross Sheppard High School, Ron Bradley, told Dorval that he’s facing termination.

From CBC:

“Your behavior is unbefitting a professional. It is also ironic in light of your very public pronouncements about your concern for the welfare of your students. Your habitual refusal to obey lawful orders, your repeated insubordination, and your obvious neglect of duty force me to consider recommending termination of your teaching contract with Edmonton Public Schools.”

Dorval called the letter “puzzling,” and plans to speak about the no-zero policy at a special meeting of the Edmonton Public School Board on Tuesday.


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Edmonton teacher may lose job for case against zeros

  1. What part of 0=0 do these supposedly highly educated “superiors” not understand? This is an eloquently simple analogy for the realities of life outside the ivory tower. This man is a hero for drawing attention to not only an absurd response by a specific school district, but the inane state of public schooling in general; he can see himself as leaving the system in an honorable and decent way. Too bad more wouldn’t have the guts to follow suit.

    • No, not really. The man could have given a 1 and still gotten his point across–while then speaking about the no-zero policy at a special meeting of the Edmonton School Board on Tuesday.
      Instead, he chose to be a prima donna and disobey orders. I’m not arguing against his position, I support it! I just think he could have gone about it in a less deliberately disrespectful and antagonistic way.

      • It needs to be done in an antagonistic way to get the message across, because this is a stupid policy borne out of some misguided attempt to prevent a child’s feelings being hurt, not out of any actual desire to educate. Policies, initially designed as a tool to streamline operations, have gone completely overboard (not just in the education field) and are adhered to in a blind, uncritical manner that is not helping anyone but the HR offices around the country. I think he is 100% correct, and I would bet he has a lot more support than you think.

        This kid is lucky he didn’t have a professor of mine from university, who (justifiably, in my opinion) to off one mark for every spelling and blatant grammatical error in any paper or test you handed in to him. It didn’t matter if your argument was concise or your answer correct, if the paper was worth 20 marks and you mispelled 20 or more words, you got zero. This was in university, so the standards were a bit higher than what I would expect in high school, but the simple fact of the matter is that if you have a university education, there is no excuse for not being able to spell. But of course that would be unreasonable to some people because it would hurt their feelings.

      • Jenn, you are right when you say he could have gotten his point across to the students by giving them a “1” but he would not have gotten his message out to the public about the ridiculous policies of the Edmonton Public School Board.
        You might call him a prima donna but if that is the case then so is every occupier and every Quebec student who marched against tuition hikes. Maybe this teacher felt he had to standup for what he believed in and that is his right to give the student the mark they earned, even if it is a zero.

        • I will concede to your point, IF he (like the students) complained about the rule and tried to get it changed before going all ballistic. Perhaps its just my understanding of the case (gee, thanks media) because if he worked through proper channels before and got nowhere, I take back what I said. I’m just seeing this as his first step–and it is inappropriate as a first step. That’s all.

      • That idiot of a principal and his moronic policy do not deserve any respect. Dorcas was right to refuse. Giving a “1” would be a half-measure and half-measures solve nothing.

      • He couldn’t have given a 1 either probably. The Ontario school board has a minimum of 25% for final grades. They can still give the students zero on the first term report card though.

  2. I’m assuming he’s in a union (or have those been banned in Alberta?) – so what’s his union’s position on this?

    • In Alberta the teachers are represented by their professional association, which is called the ATA. Every teacher, including principals belongs to the ATA. This “no-zero” policy was set by the employer, The Edmonton Public School Board. The ATA will represent the teacher and will likely file a grievance if the teacher is fired. The question is can the school board force a teacher to give a student a mark the student did not earn? Do you give a student 1% for putting their name on their paper? If these students attend university, they will get a zero when they earn it. Why shelter them from the realities of life?

  3. I certainly don’t want anyone from Ross Sheppard High School working in my company. In fact I would give priority to Catholic School graduates. Are all public schools in Alberta run this way? This would explain a lot. The school board has some explaining to do. How will Canada compete with the rest of the world when we reward “our finest minds” for accomplishing nothing? No wonder Canada is failing in an increasingly competitive world. Is this school board composed of paid members? They should be fired. This is a betrayal of the education system and of the future for Albertans. Ross Shepp graduates don’t bother looking for a job around major corporations. In fact, just go home and play computer, there is no future for you and a more limited one for Alberta than I would have thought possible. No wonder the oil sands are scouring the world for ‘qualified’ workers.

  4. If you do nothing you get nothing..that’s life. A few 0 ‘s and the students might GET IT ! Have to learn sometime1

  5. I go to this school. I can say that people aren’t happy. I don’t think this is fair. This should’ve been handled better.

  6. Zero effort in real world means zero job, zero money,zero fun.Think the school board and the principal has zero brains

  7. As a public school teacher, I do believe that assessment should be a measure of a students’ understanding of the topic being covered. We set very clear, comprehensive ‘outcomes’ that delineate the learning we expect to occur. It is impossible to assess the students’ level of understanding if they do not hand in the work. This is why so many students that fail to hand in assignments on time, or at all, do so well on standardized tests (especially unit and final exams).

    Are zeros fair to all students that do hand in their work? – no. However, if we are assessing an outcome based on set criteria, not handing in work does not indicate accurately that the student cannot understand the topic. Most of us are constantly assessing ‘for learning’ through discussions with the students – we have a very good idea what they are ‘getting’ and what they are not, without seeing a completed product. Many students that are adept at critical thinking and interpretation – skills critical for high school and beyond – will rarely hand in what many consider to be classic school work (ie. work sheets). However, they demonstrate their learning in many other ways.

    Is this realistic for a career or any generic occupation? No – I get that. However, learning is not work and should not, in my opinion, be treated as such. And, yes, I believe in fair and effective grading with a final result for every student. I give out marks every week, and yes, the students I teach have big blanks where the missing assignments should be. It is very clear to all involved who are doing extremely well academically but with anemic work ethics. I would sooner write a reference for a student with straight C-s and all assignments handed in than a kid with an A and next to nothing in the books.

    These kids have the rest of their lives to be faced with the monotony and by-the-book expectations of what we consider to be the real world. If students hate their ‘jobs’ as we see them in public education, there is no way they will learn effectively. In the private sector, if you dislike your job, you can find another one – these kids are here with one purpose and with nowhere to go but another school or jurisdiction. Let’s do what we can to let them succeed in any way they can. Just my two cents.

    • Learning is “not work”???!!!! I cannot even begin to decipher the “thinking” behind such a remark. Of course it is work, if you do it. And if you don’t, you should get a zero.

  8. This principal should be fired, for writing an idiotic letter such as that. And formdefending this ‘no zero’ policy.

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